Another blow for Flash as Unity gaming engine kills support
Says Adobe ‘eroded developers’ trust’
Unity Technologies has announced that it has dropped support for Adobe Flash from its cross-platform Unity game development toolset, citing the declining popularity of the technology among developers and inconsistent support from Adobe.
“As of today, we will stop selling Flash deployment licenses,” Unity founder and CEO David Helgason wrote in a blog post on Tuesday. “We will continue to support our existing Flash customers throughout the 4.x cycle.”
Unity first announced that it was collaborating with Adobe to build a Flash publishing add-on for its platform in March 2012.
Around the same time, Adobe announced a revenue-sharing model for Flash content, in which Flash developers who took advantage of “premium” hardware-accelerated gaming APIs would have to pay Adobe a 9 per cent royalty, but only after their apps had earned $50,000 in revenue.
At the time, Unity saw the proposed royalty model as a positive development, comparing it to how app store operators such as Apple and Google also take a cut of developers’ proceeds.
But game developers were less sanguine about the move, with many arguing that the 9 per cent fee would cut into their already-thin margins.
“Honestly, Adobe just killed the idea of making 3D flash games, especially for independent game developers that don’t make that much money that they can afford paying Adobe taxes,” game developer Nicolas Cannasse wrote in a March 2012 blog post.
Adobe eventually bowed to such complaints, and as of January 2013 there are no longer any APIs in the Flash Player that require royalty payments. But the way Unity sees it, the whole debacle did irreparable harm to the platform.
“By introducing, and then abandoning, a revenue sharing model, Adobe eroded developers’ (and our) trust in Flash as a dependable, continuously improving platform,” Helgason wrote.
Furthermore, Helgason said, Unity doesn’t believe Adobe is truly committed to the future development of Flash. The Photoshop maker has been transferring developers off Flash to work on other projects, he said, despite recent versions of the Flash Player being unstable.
That, and the platform just isn’t as popular as it once was.
“Developers are moving away from Flash, and while Flash publishing has gotten little traction, our own Unity Web Player has seen unprecedented growth in recent months,” Helgason wrote, referring to the company’s browser plugin for Windows and Mac OS X that enables accelerated 3D graphics for web-based games.
Doomsayers have been predicting the death of Flash since even before the late Steve Jobs famously banned it from Apple’s iOS platform. But for as prominent a toolmaker as Unity to abandon the technology will surely deal it a heavy blow, given that Adobe has said that games are one of the key areas of focus for its Flash efforts.
While Unity will no longer support Flash development, however, Helgason said the company will continue its efforts to allow developers to bring high-end content to the web, both via the Unity Web Player and through other means.
“Work is also underway behind the scenes on an exciting new Unity web publishing initiative that we can’t wait to tell you about,” Helgason said. “We’ll be providing more details of this soon.”